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Evacuated From New Orleans Transsexuals Jailed In


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Evacuated From New Orleans Transsexuals Jailed In Texas For Using Women's Shower In Shelter

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: September 9, 2005 5:00 pm ET

(College Station, Texas) Arpollo Vicks, 20, and her 16 year old cousin thought they were lucky to have been able to get out of hurricane ravaged New Orleans but their flighty to safety turned into a nightmare after being arrested for using the women's shower at an emergency shelter at Reed Arena at Texas A&M University.

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Vicks, a substitute teacher at a middle school in New Orleans, and her cousin, both preoperative transsexuals, said they felt safer using the women's showers.

They were arrested Sunday by campus police and charged with criminal trespass. The cousin, who is a minor and whose name is protected, has since has been released from custody, returned to Reed Arena and has been reunited with her 18-year-old sister, who also is staying there.

But Vicks was held for six days in an isolation cell in the Brazos County Jail. With no money and no way of getting anyy because of the hurricane she was unable to pay raise the $6000 bail bond.

Thursday night she made a collect call to the Human Rights Campaign in Washington for help.

Friday afternoon Vicks was released, but only after HRC, the National Center for Transgendered Equality and other activists burned up the phone lines to Texas A&M.

One of those calls was made by David Smith, HRC's VP for Policy to Bill Perry, the Vice Provost of A&M.

Smith said that he told Perry: "What you've done is take two victims of one of the worst natural disasters in history and arrest them when all they wanted to do is take a shower."

"When the inhumanity of that was made crystal clear they immediately reversed course," Smith told 365Gay.com.

The NCTE called faculty, and activist Candice Gingrich called the campus LGBT association also to complain.

After a call to the district attorney and on the consent of the university the charges were dropped Friday and Vicks was returned to the shelter.

She had not as of Friday evening received an apology.

Vicks told the College Station Eagle prior to her release that she was frightened and had never been in trouble with the law before.

"I don't think I should be here," she told the Eagle's Laura Hensley.

"It's foolish. This is nothing to be in jail for. I live like this. This is my life.

"Right now, I'm just scared. I've been here since Sunday, and they haven't told me anything. I've never been in jail before. I'm just not used to this."

Back at the shelter university officials said they now are working to make a safe environment for Vicks and her cousin.

The situation is one of many that Lambda Legal's Southern Office in Dallas is preparing for in the aftermath of the hurricane.

Lambda Legal attorney Ken Upton said the organization was prepared to represent Vicks.

Last week, Upton said that the killer hurricane will be particularly hard on the LGBT community because of Louisiana's constitutional amendment which does not recognize same-sex relationships, Federal DOMA, and DOMAs in the two other states affected by the hurricane and Texas where most of the evacuees have gone. (story)

©365Gay.com 2005


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